Perfidia by James Ellroy. (Vintage) After a Japanese family is murdered in 1940s Los Angeles, a police force with questionable ethics is tasked with solving the case, blurring the lines between criminality and morality. As reviewer Dennis Lehane wrote, “The police are not knights, they’re occupiers, and in ‘Perfidia,’ Ellroy comes closer than ever to making the case that he writes alt-histories not of the Los Angeles police but of the Los Angeles police state.”
How Paris Became Paris: The Invention Of The Modern City by Joan DeJean. (Bloomsbury) DeJean nimbly traces the city’s evolution into an urban icon. Beginning in the 17th century, Paris’ architectural achievements and technological advances – including streetlights, public mail service and public transport – led the city out of the medieval era and secured its status as an emblem of modernity.
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. (Random House) Holly Sykes, a teenage runaway who can communicate with parallel universes, is the heroine of the latest novel by the “Cloud Atlas” author. Told from alternating perspectives that span decades of Holly’s life, the novel leaps from rarefied Cambridge circles in 1991 to a post-apocalyptic society in 2043.
Neanderthal Man: In Search Of Lost Genomes by Svante Paabo. (Basic Books) In 2010, Paabo, a Swedish geneticist, solved one of anthropology’s most vexing problems after sequencing the Neanderthal genome. Reflecting on decades of his research, he describes how he uncovered new links between modern humans and Neanderthals, and what insight can be gleaned about the history of our ancestors.
Eyrie by Tim Winton. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) Winton, an acclaimed Australian writer, surveys the wreckage of a disillusioned environmentalist’s life in his latest novel. When Tom Keely, the protagonist, encounters a troubled woman from his childhood, he finds an opportunity for redemption.
The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle For James Joyce’s “Ulysses” by Kevin Birmingham. (Penguin) In a spirited account that reviewer Rachel Shteir called “Hollywood-ready,” Birmingham guides readers through the hurdles Joyce crossed to publish his masterpiece. Countering critics who considered the book lewd and provocative, Joyce – whose efforts culminated in a milestone obscenity trial – challenged the moral and artistic boundaries of the time, to lasting effect.
Land Of Love And Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique. (Riverhead) Yanique’s characters form a chorus of voices from the Caribbean in this debut novel. In the early 1900s, as the Virgin Islands are passed from Danish to U.S. control, a ship sinks off the coast of St. Thomas, leaving the captain’s three children orphaned. As the siblings recount their lives, their stories become intertwined with the island’s history.
New York Times